Best of Berlin in One Day

Berlin Reichstag
Berlin Reichstag

By Vicky · Published Feb. 2nd, 2024 · Updated Feb. 4th, 2024

Discover the best things to see in Berlin in one day on this walking tour, from Alexanderplatz to the Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie and more.

Location

This walking tour starts from the World Time Clock (Weltzeituhr) on Alexanderplatz. It’s just next to Alexanderplatz Bahnhof, which has trains, U-Bahn, bus and tram services.

Best of Berlin in One Day Walking Tour Map

Tips for the Best of Berlin in One Day

  • Many museums in Berlin are closed on Monday, while all the shops are closed on Sunday.
  • Get tickets to the Berliner Fernsehturm* in advance, especially in the summer, as tickets can sell out.
  • Gendarmenmarkt is under renovation until at least 2025.
  • Check out other walks and city guides on our Germany Hiking Page.

Best Things to do in Berlin in One Day

  1. Alexanderplatz
  2. Humboldt Forum
  3. Berlin Cathedral
  4. Neues Museum
  5. Bebelplatz
  6. Gendarmenmarkt
  7. Brandenburg Gate
  1. Reichstag
  2. Memorial to the Fallen Jews
  3. Potsdamer Platz
  4. Topography of Terror
  5. Checkpoint Charlie
  6. East Side Gallery

This free, self-guided walking tour leads to you all the best sights of Berlin. If you prefer a guide, there are many great options for a guided walking tour of Berlin*. You can complete this walk in one day, but if you have more time in Berlin you’ll be able to visit more museums and explore the different areas in more detail – check out the posts below!


Best of Berlin in One Day Walking Tour Route

This walking tour starts from the Weltzeituhr on Alexanderplatz.

1. Alexanderplatz

St Mary's Church, one of the things to see on Alexanderplatz in Berlin
The famous Berliner Fernsehturm, a stop on the walking tour of Alexanderplatz

Alexanderplatz is one of the most famous squares in Berlin, named after the Russian Tsar Alexander I. Within the large square, which extends to the river, are several sights of interest, listed below.

Directions: Head towards the obvious Fernsehturm, then right towards the old church and finally to the impressive red city hall.

Berliner Fernsehturm

The Fernsehturm (TV Tower, open every day 10am-11pm, tickets from €22.50), opened in 1969, is one of Berlin’s most iconic structures and a symbol of Berlin. It has panoramic views and a revolving restaurant near the top.

St Mary’s Church

St. Mary’s (open every day 10am-4pm, free entry) is one of Berlin’s oldest churches, surviving various wars, with the original structure dating back to the 13th century. The most notable element inside is the famous Totentanz (Dance of Death), a medieval fresco.

Rotes Rathaus

The Rotes Rathaus (free entry, open weekdays 9am-6pm) is a striking red-brick building from the late 19th century. There’s a small exhibition inside including sculptures and a Lego model of the building.

Directions: Head to the bridge to the left of the cathedral. On the other side, head left to walk through the fancy building of the Humbolt Forum.

2. Humboldt Forum

Humboldt Forum, a sotp on a walking tour through Museum Island and Central Berlin
Historic passageway through Humboldt Forum on Museum Island in Berlin

Key Information: Exhibitions open Wed-Mon 10:30am-6:30pm. Most exhibitions are free of charge.

The Humboldt Forum is located in the rebuilt Berliner Schloss, or Berlin Palace, constructed in the 15th century. The Prussian Kings and German Kaisers lived here, but the building was severely damaged in World War II. It’s definitely worth wandering through the middle passageway of the building and into the courtyard at the back to see the architecture. Inside there are several things to see, including the Ethnologisches Museum, Asian Art Museum, Palace Cellar & Video Panorama about the history of the Berlin Palace, a glass dome you can climb up, plus special exhibits.

Directions: Walk back to the impressive Cathedral.

3. Berlin Cathedral

Berlin Cathedral

Key Information: Open weekdays 9am-6pm, Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm. Tickets cost €10/7.50.

The Berlin Cathedral, or Berliner Dom, is an icon of Berlin and a symbol of Germany’s Protestant Church. Construction began in 1894 and the final result is an impressive blend of Renaissance and Baroque architectural styles. Today the cathedral’s ornate façade, crowned by a massive copper dome, dominates the skyline. If you pay to go in, you can explore the richly decorated interior, featuring intricate mosaics, impressive sculptures, and beautiful stained glass windows. You can also climb up to the dome, from which you get great views of the impressive museum buildings and the rest of central Berlin.

Directions: Turn right as you leave the cathedral to pass to the right of the Neoclassical Altes Museum. On the other side of the road are the Alte Nationalgalerie, which looks like an Ancient Greek Temple, and the Neues Museums, which doesn’t look quite so impressive.

4. Neues Museums

Museum on a walking tour of Museum Island in Belrin

Key Information: Open Tue-Sun from 10-6pm, tickets cost €14.

The most popular museum on Museum Island was the Pergamonmuseum, but this is closed until 2027. So, if you have time to just visit one museum, make it the Neues Museum. This showcases an impressive array of Egyptian, Prehistoric, and Classical antiquities. The most famous exhibit is the iconic bust of Queen Nefertiti, created around 1345 BC, and considered one of the most beautiful works of art from the ancient world. Alternatively, visit the Pergamonmuseum: Das Panorama, which displays a sample of exhibits from the Pergamonmuseum.

If you’re in Berlin for more than one day, it’s worth getting a Berlin WelcomeCard: Museum Island & Public Transport*. This costs €54, is valid for 3 days, and includes public transport, all museums on Museum Island plus gives you discounts at many other Berlin attractions.

Directions: Head across the bridge towards the centre of Berlin and turn left on the other side. Turn right on the large Unter Den Linden Strasse.

Unter den Linden Strasse

Neue Wache, or New Guard House on Unter den Linden Strasse in Central Berlin
Humboldt University

This large street is one of the main thoroughfares through Berlin and is lined by fancy old buildings. The German Historical Museum (or Deutsches Historisches Museum) is the first building on your right, but it’s currently closed for renovations. After this, you’ll pass the Neue Wache, or New Guard House. This is a memorial to those who died in war. It’s free to enter and inside you’ll find a sorrowful statue created by Käthe Kollwitz of a mother holding her dead son. The next building is the Humboldt University of Berlin, one of the most famous universities in Germany.

Directions: Cross over the road and into the square opposite the university.

5. Bebelplatz

Bebelplatz, a stop on a walking tour of Museum Island and central Berlin
St. Hedwig's Cathedral in Berlin

Bebelplatz gained infamy as the location of the Nazi book-burning ceremony. The event was organised by the Nazis to burn books that were deemed “un-German” and contrary to their ideology. Today there’s a memorial consisting of a glass plate set into the cobblestones, allowing visitors to peer into an underground room filled with empty bookshelves.

Bebelplatz is surrounded by several prominent buildings, including the State Opera, St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, and the former Royal Library (now Humboldt University Law Faculty).

Directions: Walk through the square, turn right at the end, then take the first left. You’ll see the large square of Gendarmenmarkt before you. It’s undergoing renovation until 2025, so if you want to skip it, return directly to Unter den Linden Strasse.

6. Gendarmenmarkt

Church on Gendarmenmarkt, a stop on a walking tour of Museum Island and Central Berlin

There are several lovely buildings on this square, however the square is undergoing renovation until at least 2025. The Konzerthaus Berlin occupies the centre of the square, while there are two almost identical churches on either side:

The Französischer Dom (open Tue-Sun 11am-4pm, tickets for the tower cost €6.50/4.50, audio guide an extra €3.50) was built to serve the Huguenot community (members of the French Protestant Church) in Berlin. Today there’s a museum about the Huguenots and you can climb the tower for great views of the surroundings.

The Deutscher Dom (open Tue-Sun 10-7pm in summer, until 6pm in winter, free admission, exhibitions in German only) houses an exhibition on the history of German parliamentary democracy.

Directions: Leave the square towards Unter den Linden Strasse, and then turn left on this main street. Keep walking until you reach the next stop.

7. Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate, the start of the Brandenburg Gate & Reichstag Walking Tour Route

The Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin’s most iconic landmarks and a symbol of both the city and German history. It was built in the late 18th century by King Frederick William II of Prussia as a neoclassical triumphal arch. During the Cold War, the Brandenburg Gate became a powerful symbol of the division between East and West Berlin. The gate was located in the no man’s land of the Berlin Wall, and its image was often associated with the separation of the city and the ideological conflict between the communist and capitalist blocs.

Directions: Head through the gate and right towards the Reichstag. Walk around the back to see the building from all sides. The security check before you can enter is near the Tiergarten.

8. Reichstag

A walking tour near Brandenburg Gate in Berlin with a stop at the Reichstag
Views from the roof dome of the Reichstag building

Key Information: Free entry, but you have to book timeslots in advance from the official website. Book at least one day before your visit as it takes some time to get the confirmation. Bring your official ID with you. It’s open daily from 8am to 9:45pm. There’s also a free audioguide.

The Reichstag is the seat of the German parliament. The main attraction is the Reichstag Dome, a large glass dome at the top with panoramic views over Berlin. It’s free to enter (but book in advance), and you can walk up the spiral ramp to the top while enjoying views of the city and the parliamentary chamber below. The audioguide will guide you around, and there’s also a small exhibit about the history of the building and the German government.

Have lunch at the Reichstag rooftop restaurant*

Directions: Cut through the park back towards the Brandenburg Gate and turn right along the edge of the park.

9. Memorial to the Fallen Jews

Memorial to the Fallen Jews, a stop on a walking tour of Brandenburg Gate & Reichstag

The Memorial to the Fallen Jews, commonly known as the Holocaust Memorial is a somber memorial in the centre of Berlin. It was built in 2005, and consists of 2,711 concrete slabs or stelae of varying heights arranged in a grid pattern over a sloping field. You can walk through the maze-like arrangement of slabs, and the idea is to feel a sense of unease and disorientation while at the same time allowing for solitude and quiet reflection. On the far side is an underground information centre that provides more information about the memorial.

Directions: Continue walking down the main street to reach Potsdamer Platz. Alternatively, if you don’t want to walk much further or are running out of time, you can catch a bus from near hear to the last stop – the East Side Gallery. There’s a direct bus (Bus 300) from Behrenstrasse/Wilhelmstrasse Bus Stop to Berlin Ostbahnhof, which is a five-minute walk from the East Side Gallery. Buses leave every 20 minutes and the journey also takes about 20 minutes.

10. Potsdamer Platz

The Berlin Wall running through Potsdamer Platz

Potsdamer Platz is a bustling square known for its modern architecture, entertainment options, and historical significance. During the division of Berlin, Potsdamer Platz became a “no man’s land” and a desolate area due to its location at the border between East and West Berlin. Today there’s a short section of the Berlin Wall here and several information panels explaining the wall’s history in this area.

Directions: Head onward down the main road and take the next road to your left.

11. Topography of Terror

Topography of Terror
The Berlin wall running through the Topography of Terror Museum

Key Information: Free entry. Indoor exhibits are open daily 10am-8pm, the outdoor area is officially closed when it’s dark. Audioguides are available.

The Topography of Terror Museum (free entry, open daily 10am-8pm) is a popular museum located at the former headquarters of the Nazi regime of terror. It’s also next to the Berlin Wall, though the exhibits concentrate on the Nazis rather than the Cold War. There are three main parts to this site: 1) the indoor museum that chronicles the history of the Nazi regime, 2) the outdoor exhibition trench about life in Berlin from 1933 to 1945, and 3) a walk around the grounds with information panels.

Directions: Walk along the main road for another block, past the touristy big air balloon, and to the next road junction.

12. Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie, a stop on the walking tour through Berlin

Checkpoint Charlie was the renowned border crossing linking East and West Berlin within the Soviet and American sectors. It held significant political symbolism throughout the Cold War era, reflecting the heightened tensions between the opposing sides. Today, a reconstructed checkpoint booth stands along with the iconic sign declaring “You are leaving the American Sector” in English, Russian, French, and German.

Apart from the checkpoint itself, there are several museums surrounding the old checkpoint:

Wall Museum – Checkpoint Charlie

The Wall Museum – Checkpoint Charlie (open daily 10am-6pm, tickets cost €17.50/9.50 per adult/child) tells the history of the Berlin Wall, escape attempts, and the broader context of the Cold War.

Get tickets to the Wall Museum*

THE WALL – asisi Panorama

THE WALL – asisi Panorama (open daily 10am-6pm, tickets cost €11/5 per adult/child) is an immersive museum revolving around a 360-degree panorama showing a day in the life of Berlin citizens.

Get tickets to THE WALL – asisi Panorama*

Cold War Black Box Checkpoint Charlie

The Cold War Black Box (Open daily 10am-6pm, tickets cost €5/3.50/free per adult/teenager/child) is a small, engaging museum that takes you through the chronological history of the wall.

Directions: From here, take public transport to the East Side Gallery. There are several routes you can take, including buses, metros and trains. Most of the quickest routes take you to Berlin Ostbahnhof, a five-minute walk from the East Side Gallery.

13. East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery on a walk along the Belrin Wall
The East Side Gallery
East Side Gallery on a walk along the Belrin Wall
The famous kiss on the East Side Gallery Berlin Wall

The East Side Gallery is an open-air gallery of the longest section of the Berlin Wall (about 1 km). It’s covered in interesting graffiti by over 100 artists from around the world. They were invited to paint murals on the east side of the Wall shortly after it fell.

The most famous artwork is of two old men kissing – these are the General Secretaries of the Soviet Union and the Socialist Unity Party of East Germany (Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker). This mural can be found on the east (road) side of the wall near the Oberbaum Bridge (the fancy bridge).

Directions: This is the end of the Best of Berlin in One Day Free Walking Tour. From here there are many public transport options to take you elsewhere. If you’re staying in Berlin for more than one day, check out our more detailed guides below.

Explore Berlin Further

Museum Island & Central Berlin Walking Tour – find out more about the museums and monuments in the heart of Berlin

Brandenburg Gate & Reichstag Walking Tour – discover more of the Government District on this short walk

Potsdamer Platz & Around Walking Tour – visit the Kulturforum for plenty of artwork and find a great panorama viewpoint

Alexanderplatz & Around Walking Tour – find out that there’s more to just the famous square on this side of central Berlin

Berlin Wall Walk – walk the central and most interesting 15 km of the Berlin Wall to discover more of its history and how it divided the city

Schloss Charlottenburg & Around – take a half-day trip to the suburbs of Berlin to wonder at this opulent palace with pleasant grounds


Guidebooks to explore more of Germany


For more city walking tours and hikes in Germany, see our Germany hiking page.

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